Highly intelligent ocean creatures, masters of camouflage with eight arms and bulbous heads! Have you guessed yet? Yes, we’re talking about Octopuses. Over tens of millions of years, they’ve evolved an array of tricks to avoid or foil would-be attackers. They can hide in plain sight because they can match the colours and even textures of their surroundings.
Clever, strangle looking, and ready to put up a fight, what else should we know about these amazing ocean dwellers? To satisfy your curiosity and find the answers read these 29 interesting facts about Octopus…
Octopus in general, is any eight-armed cephalopod soft-bodied invertebrate of the phylum Mollusca, of the order Octopoda. True octopuses are members of the genus Octopus, a large group of widely distributed shallow-water cephalopods.
2. “Cephalopod” is Greek for “head-foot”
This actually makes sense, since their limbs are attached directly to their head.
3. Octopus’ use tools
Like chimpanzees, dolphins, and crows, octopuses can pick up discarded coconut shells, climb into them and use them as mobile homes. They can open clamshells, move rocks and have even been known to disassemble filtration systems of an aquarium tank.
4. Octopus have a sense of smell
Octopuses can sense smell through their tentacles.
5. They’re super smart
The octopus’s arms have hundreds of suckers, which can be moved independently thanks to a complex bundle of neurons that acts as a brain, letting the animal touch, smell, and manipulate objects. They can also develop opinions about people.
6. Their suckers are strong but sensitive
The common octopus has about 240 suckers on each limb, and a particularly large sucker can hold up to 35 lbs. They can detect subtle chemical signals and move individually, even folding in half in a pinching gesture, because they’re extremely sensitive.
7. Do octopuses have royal blood?
All octopus have blue blood, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg when you reflect on the fact that they also have 3 hearts!
8. Octopus arms
Two-thirds of an Octopus’ neurons are in their arms, meaning they can act independently of one another without consulting the main brain. Their arms can continue to move even after they’ve been cut off.
9. The correct plural
The correct plural honourably goes to ‘octopuses’ not ‘octopi’.
10. Creatures of love
Japanese culture has long celebrated the octopus as animals of love.
11. Chameleon like
Octopuses can change color just like a chameleon.
12. They don’t just use their eyes to see
Besides their eyes, octopuses can see with their skin which is rich with the same light-sensitive proteins that their eyes use to sense light, color, and even shapes.
13. They tend to walk most places
It’s interesting to know that they walk most places because their heart actually stops beating when they swim.
14. Octopuses have no bones
In fact, this means they can cram themselves into tiny containers like jars and coconut shells.
15. Octopuses weren’t always squishy creatures
The descendants of octopuses and squid were dressed in hard shells.
16. The Dumbo octopus
This amazing octopus got its name from its giant ear-like paddles that sit on top of its head.
When sensing danger, octopus will release a cloud of black ink, which confuses predators and dulls an encroacher’s sense of smell.
18. Octopuses vary greatly in size
The smallest is about 5 cm (2 inches) long, while the largest species may grow to an incredible 5.4 metres (18 feet) in length and have an arm span of almost 9 metres (30 feet)!
19. The largest octopus
The Giant Pacific octopus is the largest. It’s 16 feet (5 meters) long and weighs around 110 lbs. (50 kg). According to National Geographic it was recorded that one Pacific octopus’s weight was more than 600 lbs. (272 kg) and 30 feet (9.1 m) measured across.
20. The smallest octopus
The smallest octopus is the Octopus wolfi, smaller than an inch long (2.5 cm) and weighing less than a gram.
21. Habitat and behaviour
Found in every ocean, there are around 300 species of octopus. Some, like the paper nautilus, drift nearer to the surface, but most live on the seafloor. They mostly feed on crabs, shrimp, and molluscs.
22. Solitary animals
Octopuses usually live alone. They live in dens they construct from rocks, or in shells they pull over on top of themselves. Some even make a door from a rock pulled into place once they’re safely popped into their homes.
23. There’s an exception to the rule
According to new research, not all octopuses are solitary, some of them live in groups.
24. When bored they eat their arms
Octopus living in non-stimulating environments in captivity become pretty stressed out, and some even turn to a disturbing behaviour known as autophagy, or eating their appendages.
25. They’ve got poison
It’s thought that all octopuses have some venom that comes from bacteria living inside the animals. Most don’t have enough poison to injure people, but a bite from a small blue-ringed octopus can paralyze a human in minutes.
26. Masters of camouflage
An octopus can change the color of its whole body in just three-tenths of a second. But the octopus doesn’t simply take on the overall pattern of its surroundings. Instead, to disappear into the underwater scenery, it often mimics specific undersea objects, like plants or rocks.
27. Live fast and die young
For all of their amazing abilities, octopuses have short lives that typically last only a few years. Unfortunately, some species die after just six months.
28. Let’s play!
Here’s a fun fact! Octopuses are playful! Anecdotes from aquariums and biology labs suggest octopuses are very curious and need stimulation. They might even engage in what humans would call “play.” In fact, a scientist told a tale of one specimen pushing a plastic bottle over and over again at a stream of water flowing into its tank, almost like underwater ball bouncing.
29. In film…
In 2020, a filmmaker in South Africa shared his story in a beautiful nature documentary, showing off his encounters over one year with a very curious octopus. Watch the trailer to ‘My Octopus Teacher’ here.
FAQs about Octopuses
Can octopuses kill humans?
In some cases, yes - the blue-ringed octopus, for example, produces extremely deadly venom.
Do octopuses eat people?
It's pretty rare. The octopus is only ever likely to eat things smaller than itself, and while there are giant octopuses out there, they normally won't attack unless threatened.
Do octopuses fart ink?
It's a difficult one - octopuses actually disperse ink from the same opening through which they get rid of bodily waste and excess water - but it's not exactly farting!
Did we miss any interesting facts about octopus? Share them in the comments!
And if you’re fascinated about sea life and want to dive in to see it up close, check out these fun facts about scuba diving!